Sunday, July 15, 2018

You've Got to Stand for Something or You'll Fall for Anything.

Yes, this blog entry shares a title with a country song by Aaron Tippin.  However the saying can first be attributed to a Methodist church announcement in an Iowa newspaper from 1926 - "It is easier to fall for anything than to stand for something." For What should we be standing? We must stand for the Bible, and not fall for all the corrupted ideas of man. The Word of God is called the sword of the Spirit because it is our primary offensive weapon (Ephesians 6:17). The unchurched and some lukewarm Christians say many things that don't follow the Bible's teachings. We must follow scripture, not those who 'seem good' in our society. You have to stand for something or you'll fall for anything.

The Bible is our textbook, our life's instruction manual and it is vital to our relationship with God. God verified the Bible in a manner that could not be duplicated by mere humans - by miracles. The Bible is the inspired word of God. There is archaeological evidence and eye-witness accounts, but the real proof of the Bible's claim to absolute inspired truth in its supernatural evidence, including prophecy. God used prophets to speak and write down His Word, and God uses miracles like fulfilled prophecy to authenticate His messengers. We must believe and act out our belief that the Bible is a source we can trust. The Bible is the world's best selling and most widely distributed book. It's been translated in over 500 languages. There are about 50 Bibles sold every minute, and it is the most stolen book in the world. So why are many people refusing to stand up for it's teachings? There's a plain and simple answer, SIN.

We must not get caught up in the false teachings of this world. Satan is at work using subtle, crafty deceit to lead us away from God. Much of this deceit comes from well meaning people: church members and even clergy who have fallen for sin that is wrapped up in the pretty package of "being kind." They say in order to be kind we must accept all types of behaviors and beliefs that the Bible forbids. 2 Timothy 4:2-4 says, "Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths."

What their itching ears want to hear... everything is okay, accept all behaviors and ideas because it is loving and kind, and it is easier than standing up for the truth of the Gospel. We must stand up for the Bible, follow God's instructions. Jesus said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself." We are to love one another, treat each other with kindness and respect, but that does NOT mean we have to agree with them if they are not following the Word of God, the Bible.

Throughout history the Bible has been ridiculed, burned, refuted, and destroyed, but it lives on. Billy Graham said, "It is the anvil that has worn out many hammers. Most books are born, live a few short years, then go the way of all the earth; they’re forgotten. But not the Bible. The Bible is preserved. It lives on." We must stand up for the Bible and it's teachings and not fall for what the world is pushing us to believe.

1 Corinthians 16:13 "Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong." We can trust God's word to be true and rely on Him to guide us. Pray that you will listen to his voice in the Word.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing

Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

The wolf in sheep's clothing is not always outright evil. Satan is extremely crafty and devious. He is using well-meaning people who are not actively following Christ and don't have a relationship with him, to present ideas and beliefs that seem "good" in order to lead others astray. Even some ministers get caught up in power and recognition. It clouds their spirit, and distorts their vision.

In this earthly life the truth can get can get twisted, blurred, or manipulated. Things once seen as black and white may start to appear more gray. It may seem harder to recognize what’s true or what’s false. We have to look closely, beyond what is on the surface.

God knows how difficult it is to fight this spiritual battle. Wolves live for the love of power rather than the power of love. They often refuse accountability and resist submission to authority. Wolves are also experts at deceit.  They pretend to be good and care about the sheep. They look and talk like sheep especially when the sheep are disagreeing or dissenting. (but they have those teeth...) Winning and being right are their highest values and they do whatever they need to in order to stay on top. When operating in church settings their methods are often underhanded and cunning in order to appear less aggressive.

Could certain portions of our society be unwittingly sheltering a wolf in sheep's clothing? In our attempt to be kind and gracious to everyone are we forgetting the fact that some groups who act as a religion are not? Do they follow what we know is in the Bible?

When we discern that someone is not expressing the true meaning of God's Holy Word: that's not the end of the battle. Many people object to any attempt to identify wolves among us because it sounds uncharitable and judgmental. They say we must not judge. Yet, Jesus himself warns us that there are those who claim to be believers.They may even be leaders in the church, but they are vicious or ravenous wolves dressed up in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15). The apostle Paul warned Timothy that there would be people who act religious, but are puffed up with pride, who are unloving, unforgiving, slanderous, and cruel (2 Timothy 3:2-9).

How can we see through their deception? Know the truth of the one voice who matters most. Know God's word and you will know when it is being twisted and manipulated. Satan and his forces have quoted God’s words since the beginning of time, twisting it, trying their best to manipulate the truth, their main goal only to deceive and lead astray. Bring everything back to the Bible. What does the Bible say? The Bible is the inspired word of God.  We must not let people tell us any differently. One of our own United Methodist ministers, Adam Hamilton proposes that there are three "buckets" into which scriptures fall:
1. Scriptures that express God’s heart, character and timeless will for human beings.
2. Scriptures that expressed God’s will in a particular time, but are no longer binding.
3. Scriptures that never fully expressed the heart, character or will of God. 
Has Hamilton fallen victim to the power and recognition that he has achieved? We cannot know what is in his heart, but we do know what he says. You can read more about this in the United Methodist publication, Good News.

2 Timothy 4:3-5
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

The United Methodist Church is facing difficult times. We will have a specially called conference in a few months. Pray every morning for wisdom for the day and to sense God's presence and to be obedient to him. Pray that our church leaders have discernment to listen to God's voice and obey his word. Pray that church leaders tune in to God and tune out the world.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Orthodox United Methodists

The word for the day is orthodox. I learned of how it is being used in the Methodist church from our Minister's wife. It is a much better term than conservative. Why is this the word of the day?  The United Methodist Church is facing some very tough decisions in the near future. Orthodox describes our local church and conference. The articles listed below represent a good summary of what has been going on since General Conference.

1. (of a person or their views, especially religious or political ones, or other beliefs or practices) conforming to what is generally or traditionally accepted as right or true; established and approved.

2. of the ordinary or usual type; normal.
synonyms: conservative, traditional, observant, devout, strict

The Un-tied Methodist Church

Seeing the Future

A Second Rise of Methodism

United Methodists Form Wesleyan-Covenant Association

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Renegade Gospel

Chapter 6

Biblical Foundation 1 Corinthians 15:12-14

Opening Activity
1 Corinthians 15:3-6 and the quotation from N.T. Wright in the book
  1. What conclusions can we draw when we compare the amount of the four Gospels devoted to Jesus' birth with the amount devoted to the amount of the events leading up to his crucifixion and resurrection?
  2. Do you find this early testimony about Jesus' resurrection compelling? Why or why not?
  3. What else can you cite about the early years of the Christian movement that seem to you to be important clues about whether the Resurrection is real
Video Study and Discussion
  1. How does Slaughter differentiate between historical and scientific evidence?
  2. What is the significance of eyewitnesses to the Resurrection?
  3. Why does Slaughter say Jesus made Peter a leader of the young church?
  4. Why is the mustard seed such a good metaphor for faith?

Book and Bible Study and Discussion
Mark 9:14-29
  1. Faith and doubt seem to go together. In your own experience, is this true?
  2. What does Slaughter mean when he says the Resurrection defines the new possible? What does it mean that the impossible is the new possible?
  3. Consider examples of some people who defied conventional wisdom to make accomplishments that have contributed to human advancement. Some might call this thinking out of the box. What does it mean for Christians to think "out of the grave"?
  4. Christian faith seems to flourish in times and places where people face persecution and doubt? Why do you think this is?
  5. In your own day-to-day life, are most people with whom you interact Christians, of some other faith, or nonreligious?
Resurrection account in Luke 24:1-12
Walk to Emmaus Luke 24:13-35
Luke 24:36-43

Monday, May 28, 2018

United Methodist Church News

The Judicial Council has ruled in favor of allowing other petitions besides the one the liberal bishops were pushing. We need to pray for the Lord to guide people in writing petitions that will bring about His will for the church. Petitions are due on July 8th. We pray for God to help those writing them to follow His will, and get them in on time. 

Friday, May 4, 2018

Renegade Gospel Ch. 3

Session Goals
  • Examine the historical evidence and statements of skeptics and use the lens of science to explore the identity of Jesus
  • Explore Scriptures that reveal the power unleashed in a commitment to community
  • Examine our understanding of who Jesus is
  • Further deepen our commitment to journey with Jesus as disciples

Video Discussion Questions:
  • Who Is Jesus?
  • C.S. Lewis observed that we must decide if Jesus is a liar, a lunatic, or Lord. What reasons did Lewis give for asserting that Jesus must be identified in one and only one of those three ways? How do you respond to his assertion?
  • For you, what is the most compelling argument as to why God had to come in human form? What, if anything does suffering have to do with it?
  • Why does Slaughter say that Christianity is the one religion you can't do alone? What do you think he means in saying that shared brokenness becomes a strength?
  • In the video, a recovered crack addict named Lori tells her story. What can we learn from Lori's experience of recovery even including her relapse?
Bible Study Discussion Questions:
Luke 9:10-17
  • What do we learn in these passages about the power of multiplication?
  • What examples can you cite from your own experiences in community? Why is only a limiting word?
3 Parables in Luke 15: Lost Sheep, Lost Coin, Lost Son
  • In this parable, Jesus describes God as...
  • What does this parable tell you about Jesus? "If Jesus is God with skin on," what does the parable tell us about Jesus?
John 15:1-6
  • Jesus says those who abide in him will bear fruit. What does it mean to abide in him? How can you be a fruitful disciple?
  • Jesus says that the Father prunes the brances to make them bear more fruit What do you think he means by pruning? What are the implications for discipleship?
  • What happens to branches that do not bear fruit? What happens to a branch that is not a part of the vine? What does this mean for us?

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Chapt. 1 Renegade Gospel... Thoughts

Charles Stanley's sermon, The Priority of Relationship Part 2 was a great one for me to listen to after reading chapter 1 in Renegade Gospel. I encourage to listen to it.
 In it, Stanley says, "Many churches are like a refrigerators, as cold as a cucumber because the hearts of the people are not pleading for God. They are not listening for God, they want to hear something that makes them feel good. God speaks the truth, not to make us feel good, but to penetrate us in order that we may deepen our loving relationship with Him. It's easy to use involvement in Christian activities as the barometer for determining a person's dedication to the Lord. While serving God is extremely important, doing things for Him follows a relationship with Him".
"God is more interested in our personal relationship with Him, than a thousand lifetimes of work for Him."

He uses Rev. ch 2:1-7 "The Priority of Relationship." in this sermon.